Margaret Hughes ELLIS
Father Samuel ELLIS b.c. 1788 m. (1) 18321 (2) 18452 d. 18563
Step-father (1) John HISCOCK or HITCHCOCK b.c. 1807 m. 18574 d. 18615
Step-father (2) William WRIGHT b. unknown m. 18626 d. unknown
Mother Louise WHELAN née HUGHES7 b. unknown m. (1) bef. 1845 (2) 18458 (3) 1857 (4) 1862 (5) 1867 d. aft. 1870
Half-brother William ELLIS9 b. pre. 1845 m. d. 190610
Inmate Margaret Hughes ELLIS b. 185411 m. none - d. 187012
Half-brother John HISCOCK b. 185713 m. none - d. 185714
Relationship Name Age Height Hair Eyes Complexion Build Distinguishing features
Father Samuel15 15 5' 4" light brown blue fair & florid

++++WARNING: Details of Margaret's story may cause distress.

Margaret appeared before the Murrurundi Court on 8 November 1867, charged with having no lawful means of support. The Magistrates stated that:

… young as this child is she was in a frightful state of disease prevalent amongst her sex and class of older years in large towns.16

This comment suggested that Margaret was not a virgin and that she was suffering from either gonorrhoea or syphilis but she had arrived in Newcastle too late to be recorded on the Signs of Virginity list compiled by the school doctor,
HARRIS. Margaret was admitted to Newcastle on 14 November 1867, and was recorded as thirteen years of age in the Entrance Book.17 She was a Protestant and appeared on SELWYN’s list of Protestant students enrolled by June 1868.18 Her educational level was described as 'first book' but there was no record made of her writing ability. From at least as early as August 1868, Margaret was reported to be ill and in the school hospital. HARRIS diagnosed her at this stage as 'in consumption.'19 She was in the hospital on 1 September,20 and 15 September 1868.21 Prior to these dates she had also spent some periods of time in the hospital at the school for unspecified problems prior to an admission to the hospital ward on 10 July 1870, after more than two years in the school.22 Her illness had become worse. Dr. HARRIS examined her on his regular visit but her condition progressively deteriorated and she died from bronchitis on 3 August 1870, between 12 and 1 o'clock.

Margaret's was the first of two deaths that occurred at the school.23 An inquest was held by the district coroner, Mr C. B. RANCLAUD, the next day and the decision was reported in both the local and colonial papers. There was criticism of HARRIS by CLARKE who maintained that Margaret should have been seen daily as she had been ill for so long and at one stage hadn’t eaten for a week but that HARRIS would not attend when sent for by CLARKE. HARRIS stated that Margaret had a speech defect which hampered her communication and stressed that he 'knew there were at the time over sixty broken panes of glass in the institution.' Mrs CLARKE, the matron refuted this and stated that there were none broken in Margaret’s room and furthermore, HARRIS had never objected to the room where Margaret was kept. Evidence was given that Mrs CLARKE, the matron Mrs ELLIOTT, the cook, and two inmates, Mary Ann CALLAGHAN and Sarah Jane DERBIN had spent time with Margaret so that she was never left alone and that she received whatever she requested.24 Even though Margaret was very ill the enmity that existed between CLARKE and HARRIS may very well have hastened Margaret's death. Margaret was buried in the grounds of Christ Church, Newcastle, in July 1868.


The Entrance Book identified Margaret's mother as Louisa Hughes ELLIS. Margaret’s parents, Samuel ELLIS, a widower, and Louisa WHELEN or WHELAN, a widow, married at the courthouse in Murrurundi on 28 September 1845.25 The witnesses to the marriage were John PEDLOW and Ruth (X) PHELPS, both of Murrurundi. Samuel and Louisa were also witnesses at the wedding of James MILLINER and Maria JIGGINS26 on 13 September 1847. Margaret was their only recorded child and she was born on 13 April 1854, and baptized on 13 August 1854,27 when Samuel was an overseer at Iron Bark Station. At the time of Margaret's admission Louisa was described as ‘very poor’ and any provisions for her or Margaret recorded in Samuel's will would be interesting to view.

While the ages don’t match exactly, Margaret's father Samuel was almost without any doubt the convict who had been transported for fourteen years on the Hindustan in 1821 who was living in the upper Hunter Valley at the time of the marriage to Louisa and the birth of Margaret. He had been born in Hertfordshire but had been tried in Middlesex.28 When Samuel was twenty-six he had married Mary SEARS aka SAYERS/SEDES/SAYDUS at Christ Church, Newcastle.29 Mary had been transported on the Roslyn Castle. Both were on a bond when the permission to marry was granted on 25 November 1831,30 and both came from Darlington when they married on 14 January 1832. The witnesses to this marriage were James PHILLIPS of St. Hilliers and Mary (X) WATKINS of Newcastle. Samuel was an overseer at the time of Margaret's baptism in 1854 and was recorded in the Maitland Mercury as the master of Thomas CAREY at Murrurindi in January 1846.31 Samuel's death was registered at Murrurundi in 1856 at the stated, but almost certainly erroneous, age of sixty-eight.

Louisa's identity is uncertain. She was a widow in 1845 when she married Samuel. On 3 January 1857, after his death, she remarried John HISCOCK or HITCHCOCK,32 a farmer of Creswell Park, Murrurundi.33 Their son, John, was baptised at St Luke’s, Church of England, Scone, in 1857 but he died later that same year. On 25 June 1859, HISCOCK claimed an amount of nearly forty pounds from the estate of Samuel ELLIS for his costs in caring for Margaret for the previous two and a half years.34 HISCOCK died in 1861 at the age of fifty-four and the following year Louisa married William WRIGHT.35

There are some possible deaths for William WRIGHT in Muswellbrook and Patrick's Plains.36 Louisa may subsequently have gone on to marry George STEPHENSON in 186737 but no certain trace of her has been confirmed after the 1862 marriage although she was almost without any doubt still alive at the time of the death of her daughter.

Updated January 2018

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